NFL, NAIA Partner to Make Women's Flag Football a Varsity Sport

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2020

Donna Conley laces an official ball for the NFL Super Bowl LIV football game at the Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in Ada, Ohio, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. The Kansas City Chiefs will play the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, in Miami. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics is making women's flag football a varsity sport starting next year, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), in partnership with both the NFL and the Reigning Champs Experiences."  

"Football is for everyone," NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said regarding the partnership. "This groundbreaking and historic joint venture provides an opportunity for the values, fun and competitive environment of football to be enjoyed as a varsity sport by female student-athletes attending NAIA institutions across America."


We are thrilled to announce a partnership with @NFLFLAG and @RCX_experiences to be the first to make women’s flag football a collegiate sport! Check-out the official announcement here -->https://t.co/GYmrICSlCS #FemalesInFLAG #NAIAWFLAG https://t.co/Gd88dXq7fN

The inaugural season will begin in spring 2021, with the first showcase expected to take place in the late summer or autumn season and an emerging sport or invitational championship expected in spring 2022. 

NAIA sports must have at least 15 schools participating to be considered an emerging sport, 25 to be considered an invitational and 40 schools to hold championship status 

"Increasing female participation in flag football has been a top priority for NFL FLAG," RCX president and general manager Izell Reese said. "By teaming up with the NAIA, we're able to create even more opportunities for young women to continue the sport they love, and potentially receive scholarships to continue their education and compete at the next level."

The NFL and RCX will help the NAIA outline regulations for the competition and create the infrastructure to run and expand the sport.